Future councillor cull could help to save cash

LOCAL democracy could run more efficiently and cost effectively if councillor numbers were slashed by almost a third.

South Holland District Council cabinet member Coun Gary Taylor believes there is a growing feeling among some members that calling in the Boundary Commission to redraw the lines on council wards could see decisions made faster and thousands of pounds saved on members’ allowances and equipment such as laptop computers.

Coun Taylor is the only councillor representing Spalding’s Castle ward, which covers the whole town centre, while some village wards have up to three.

He said: “In a small rural district such as South Holland and in these austere times I believe there may be good reason to reduce the number of councillors and I know there are a number of other members who would back it.

“It would mean one councillor representing more people, which could be a challenge, but with people using technology more I think that could be overcome and we could go from 37 to 27 without any pain.”

Coun Taylor said the district is represented by just a small number of county councillors, demonstrating that such a high number of district councillors was unnecessary.

He believes “one councillor, one ward” would help improve relationships between constituents and their councillors and said: “There are some wards with two councillors from different groups who spend the four years falling out and that just proves a distraction to the issues faced in the ward.”

The move could take up to eight years to come to fruition, as the Boundary Commission has to be invited in to redraw the boundaries.

Coun Taylor said he could include the “aspiration” in his manifesto pledge for the next elections in 2015.

He said: “It is probably a bit like turkeys voting in favour of Christmas, but I think it could work well.”